The Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2011

September 29, 2011

Related UPDATE:

Above the Law reported that the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) has a new policy that allows breastfeeding mothers additional break time (a “lactation-related modification”) while taking the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).

The allowance seems pretty reasonable to me, though I am admittedly biased as a breastfeeding mother myself. I wondered if this issue had been addressed before in case law, so I decided to try a quick plain language search in WestlawNext. Using All State and Federal materials, I ran the following query:

ADDITIONAL TIME TO BREASTFEED DURING TEST OR EXAM

The overview screen alerts me immediately to a recent case involving a woman who requested additional time to express breast milk during a medical licensing exam. The court rejected her state Civil Rights Act claim, but they found that the Equal Rights Act applied to lactating women, and that the denial of additional time violated the state public accommodations law as sex discrimination in a place of public accommodation.

Currier v. Natl. Bd. of Med. Examiners, 965 N.E.2d 829 (Mass. 2012).

Clicking on the filings tab for the Currier case displays a number of the briefs, including amicus curiae, for this case.

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Original Post September 29, 2011

The benefits of breastfeeding have been made well known in recent years, with government campaigns, medical organizations, and the media extolling the advantages for babies and mothers. When I became a mother a few years ago, I was committed to breastfeeding my new baby. I found fantastic support here at Thomson Reuters, where I was provided time and a comfortable, well-equipped, private, “Mother’s Room” to express breast milk during the workday. But not all working mothers enjoy such benefits; and breastfeeding can pose some logistical challenges to employers when they are asked to provide accommodations for employees who need to express their breast milk at the workplace.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act PL 111-148, 2010 HR 3590 made it a requirement for employers with over 50 employees to provide reasonable, unpaid, break time as needed for employees to express breast milk for nursing children up to one year of age. It also required that the employer provide a private place (that is not a bathroom), for employees to express their breast milk. The move was heralded as a positive step in providing protection to nursing mothers who work outside the home, and in support of breastfeeding. But as they exist currently, the protections provided by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are limited to non-exempt employees.

The Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2011 proposes to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to explicitly protect breastfeeding mothers from discrimination, and expand the current break time requirements to salaried, exempt, employees. I wanted to find this proposed legislation and track its progress. I knew the popular name, so I ran the following search in the search box at the top of the Congressional Bills category page under Federal Proposed & Enacted  Legislation on WestlawNext:

“BREASTFEEDING PROMOTION ACT OF 2011”

We get two results as of 9.29.2011. One is the Senate Bill (2011 CONG US S 1463), and the other is the House bill (2011 CONG US HR 2758).

To check the status of these bills,  go to Bill Tracking under Tools and Resources under Federal Proposed & Enacted  Legislation. I wanted to search for both of these bills, so I used the Terms and Connectors search box instead of the template. This was my search:

CI(1463) CI(2758) & TI(BREASTFEEDING)

Or, track the bill using CapitolWatch.  The CapitolWatch link on the tools tab in WestlawNext. Find the bills and click, track.

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